A Moral Dilemma

Stone Soup Editors' Notes  /   /  By Gerry Mandel
Stone Soup Magazine
October 2017

Catching Mice,” by Eoin O’Mara, age 11, is the featured story from our July/August 2014 issue.

It starts innocently enough. Eoin is visiting his grandparents in Colorado. It’s a beautiful morning. Eoin and Granny are sitting on the porch, enjoying the sunrise. Birds and chipmunks are nibbling the sunflower seeds Granny put out for them.

Then it happens. Granny spots a field mouse among the other animals. It’s the very field mouse Eoin has been observing for the past two weeks with growing affection. Granny hates field mice. She commands Eoin to shoot an arrow at the mouse and kill it.

What will Eoin do? He was taught to respect his elders, and he feels obligated to obey his grandmother. But his feelings for the little field mouse run deep. The mouse has done nothing wrong. He is just passing by, lonely, hungry. Why must people hate him? Eoin wonders how the little mouse must feel. He relates to the poor creature.

Reluctantly, Eoin shoots one arrow at the mouse, then another. He can’t believe he’s doing it, but what choice does he, a little boy, have, when faced with his grandmother’s command? Maybe because his heart is not in it, Eoin’s arrows miss the mouse, who scampers off to safety. What a relief! His friend is safe for now. Granny is so angry with Eoin that she doesn’t speak to him for the rest of the family’s visit.

Author Eoin O’Mara is only eleven years old. His story is only three pages long. But somehow he manages to capture a world of emotions in his powerful story: a boy’s love of nature and animals, a peaceful morning that turns into a nightmare, a complex relationship between child and grandparent. Be sure to read Eoin’s story, “Catching Mice,” and think about what you would do if you were faced with a similar dilemma.

Gerry Mandel
About the Author

Back in 1973, I was one of the group of UC Santa Cruz students who put together the early issues of Stone Soup. It was my great pleasure to work on the magazine until I retired in 2017.

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